Watch Now: R Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos (Dresden, 1999)

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday, 18 June 2011 | 6:09:00 am

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Cast: Susan Anthony (Ariadne / Prima donna), Iride Martinez (Zerbinetta), Jon Villars (Bacchus / Tenor), Sophie Koch (Composer), Friedrich-Wilhelm Junge (Major-Domo), Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden, Colin Davis (conductor), Marco Arturo Marelli (director)

Recorded at the Semperoper in Dresden in 1999











Cast: Susan Anthony (Ariadne / Prima donna), Iride Martinez (Zerbinetta), Jon Villars (Bacchus / Tenor), Sophie Koch (Composer), Friedrich-Wilhelm Junge (Major-Domo), Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden, Colin Davis (conductor), Marco Arturo Marelli (director)

Recorded at the Semperoper in Dresden in 1999



Sung in German

In this production, there is no question of the setting in the palace of the 'bougeois gentilhomme'. One is always in his mansion and his guests (unseen in other productions) appear frequently as supernumeraries. Even the composer is active on the sidelines in the 'opera' proper. The 'fireworks' (offstage lighting effects) begin promptly as the opera ends and the guests are still watching them during the curtain calls. The orchestra is of chamber dimensions, providing clarity at the expense of depth. Davis's direction is brisk, fully consistent with the style of the production. Yet the concept and delivery do not fuse into a satisfying whole, in part because many singers are soloists appearing to have their own objectives instead of being members of an ensemble. Susan Anthony seems a bit over the top in the ebullient prologue, but very much at home in the 'opera'. Her Ariadne is in the lyric style of della Casa and Janowitz; the comparison with those great artists is appropriate. Unfortunately, Martinez does not realize the wit of Zerbinetta, finding only her cynicism; she does manage the notes, which is not a small achievement, but the greater objective of contrasting with Ariadne is missed both vocally and spiritually. Villars shows us only an empty robe instead of a character and delivers some unpleasant sounds. Koch disappoints in her pivotal role with a wide (fast) vibrato destroying any illusion of masculinity, and her freneticism contradicting the score. On the other hand, Junge is archetypical and refreshing. This DVD complements the Met production by contrasting with it in most respects. In good conscience, I cannot recommend it as the first version of the opera in one's library, but it is a worthy second choice.
 
Related website:
Arthaus Musik www.arthaus-musik.de
 
Michael Richter, 30 May 2003
opera@mrichter.com